Following Think & Ask's investigation into freely available fetish and pornographic videos on YouTube, the website has made an effort to clean-up -- at least two videos, of dozens found.
Family entertainment video website YouTube has experienced tremendous traffic growth since launching in February 2005. Current website traffic reports show roughly 24.6 million videos are served each day, up 10 million from January.
[Read the exclusive pornography
investigation of YouTube.com Reader discretion is advised.]
Think & Ask investigated, located, and recorded pornographic content on YouTube during the week of 19-26 February.
The company's policy bans pornography. We sent six IDs (of which were in violation of YouTube policy) to Julie Supan, and the technical support staff at YouTube. After four attempts to get YouTube to ban (at least) one ID in particular (THORO) after he posted explicitly sexual videos, YouTube removed the first video on 26 February.
Following the expose published here, YouTube removed one of the six IDs, S41GCRH435, on 1 March, which displayed a female "wet clothes" office scene.
Think & Ask again notified YouTube on 1 March of the offending 'THORO' film, to which it was finally removed on 2 March. However, THORO's ID photograph still shows male and female genitalia performing intercourse. Contrary to YouTube policy, of three-strikes, THORO remains an active member.
Supan, YouTube's marketing manager, did not answer phone calls, return phone messages, nor did she answer questions via e-mail during the investigation.
However, an employee of YouTube called Think & Ask following publication of "Fetish Videos Land on Family Entertainment Website YouTube" and for that individual's own protection we agreed not to publish the informant's name or gender. The company has relatively few, but tightly knit employees.
"It [pornography] was bound to happen, but we don't have the [manual] resources to control what people post here," the informant said.
"For our future business model the issue is very sticky. I'm sure upper management won't comment for that reason," the informant said.
YouTube secured $3.5 million in financing from Sequoia Capital in November 2005, and a second round of funding is anticipated by mid-year 2006.
Think & Ask published the expose on 27 February. Following the investigation, we also filed a complaint with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in Manhattan citing the free availability of pornography on YouTube without proper restrictions to safeguard children cruising the Internet. Whether or not the FBI follows-through on the complaint is not known, as they would not comment on which officer now holds the complaint.
On the following day, 28 February, YouTube published a statement online regarding the investigation conducted by Think & Ask.
YouTube now says, the website is not "for people under the age of 13, at all."
"If you are under 13 years of age, please do not visit YouTube. Minors ages 13-17 are welcome, if they have permission from a parent or legal guardian."
However, the statement is not on YouTube's homepage; it is buried on the YouTube blog. Users have to scroll down the homepage to find the 'blog' link in small letters at the bottom.
Additionally, YouTube suggested to potential filmmakers, that "some things are better left private... Posting videos of yourself, your friends, or your family can be fun and exciting. You never know who will find it, it might even get featured on the front page, or wind up on the top of the Most Viewed! If your video is personal, consider marking it private so that only your friends and those you share it with can view it."
YouTube linked to instructions on how to mark your own film "private." "YouTube doesn't allow videos with nudity, graphic violence, or hate. If you come across a video like this, click the link on the video to flag it as inappropriate and submit the form on the next page to report it to YouTube," the company suggests.
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